From the Pastor’s Desk | January 20, 2019

frsamDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The prophet Isaiah speaks these powerful words in the first reading today: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.” The prophet raises his voice so that the word of the Lord will be heard, known, and understood by all people. Isaiah is proclaiming the truth of God’s power and mercy, while calling the people to follow. “For Zion’s sake” is almost Biblical-code for “for the sake of the truth” or “for the sake of justice.”

This weekend, we are reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who, for the sake of justice, proclaimed the truth that all are created equal. His fight against racial discrimination changed our nation and our culture. We are aware, too, that this battle against racism continues in many ways. Our Catholic faith calls us to acknowledge the dignity of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or country of origin. For Zion’s sake, for Jerusalem’s sake, we cannot be silent but must proclaim and live the truth that God has endowed every human life of every race with inherent, infinite worth.

This week also marks the annual March for Life, when hundreds of thousands will gather in Washington, D.C. to stand for the right to life on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. In his encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II wrote “[H]uman life, as a gift of God, is sacred and inviolable. For this reason procured abortion and euthanasia are absolutely unacceptable. Not only must human life not be taken, but it must be protected with loving concern. The meaning of life is found in giving and receiving love, and in this light human sexuality and procreation reach their true and full significance. Love also gives meaning to suffering and death; despite the mystery which surrounds them, they can become saving events. Respect for life requires that science and technology should always be at the service of man and his integral development. Society as a whole must respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person’s life.”
With that in mind, I am reminded of a conversation I had many years ago with a volunteer at Malta House of Good Counsel in Norwalk, a home and ministry to mothers in crisis. The volunteer, explaining their mission, told me that it is one thing to say that we are pro-life and wish to see human life protected and another thing entirely to do something about it. Malta House, she said, tries to provide women a real alternative to the tragic prospect of abortion. There are many other organizations and ministries that do the same, thanks be to God! Additionally, the Church has many ministries to support women who have had abortions and to help them find hope and healing. I encourage you to visit https://www.maltahouse.org/, http://www.sistersoflife.org/, and http://hopeafterabortion.com/ to see some of the valuable work in support of families, children born and unborn, and those who are most in need.

In closing, I offer you this call from Pope St. John Paul II: “What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life. All together, we must build a new culture of life: new, because it will be able to confront and solve today’s unprecedented problems affecting human life; new, because it will be adopted with a deeper and more dynamic conviction by all Christians; new, because it will be capable of brining about a serious and courageous cultural dialogue among all parties. While the urgent need for such a cultural transformation is linked to the present historical situation, it is also rooted in the Church’s mission of evangelization. The purpose of the Gospel, in fact is “to transform humanity from within and to make it new.” Like the yeast which leavens the whole measure of dough (cf. Mt 13:33), the Gospel is meant to permeate all cultures and give them life from within, so that they may express the full truth about the human person and about human life (Evangelium Vitae).”

Peace,

Fr. Sam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Pastor’s Desk January 13, 2019

frsamDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Though the season of Christmas comes to a liturgical close with today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this celebration is hardly the end of anything. We have spent these last few weeks reflecting on the birth of Jesus into our world. The light of the world begins to shine in the darkness, is made manifest to the nations, and now in the baptism in the river Jordan that light begins a mission of salvation.

The Incarnation happens for one simple reason: “God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, so that all who believe in Him might not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Humanity, fallen in sin, needs a savior. Thus, the whole mission of the incarnate Son of God is to bring salvation to the world. His mission will involve both teaching and action. Teaching – He preaches the Gospel, showing us the truth of who He is, revealing the Father’s love for us, explaining how we are to live in accord with the Father’s loving plan. Action – He enters the full depth of our human suffering by dying on the Cross for love of us, and He defeats death with the power of His Resurrection. The day of Jesus’ baptism, then, is just the beginning of something great and beautiful.

In a similar way, the day of our baptism was the beginning. On that day, we received our mission. As baptized Christians, it is our mission to live as disciples of Christ, following Him in everything and to be His apostles, those sent out to bring Jesus to others. A disciple, as you know, is one who follows. So every baptized person is called to be a follower of Christ. We follow Christ by living in a relationship with Him, a relationship rooted especially in prayer and the sacraments. To be a follower means also to be a student. Thus, we must get to know Jesus in reflection and study, as well. How well do we know the story of the Gospel? How well do we understand the Catholic faith? Are we willing to ask questions and seek answers? An apostle is one who is sent out on mission. In baptism, we also became apostles of Jesus Christ, sent out into the world to bring His light and love everywhere we go. Often we think of those heroic missionary saints who went to far off lands, learned foreign languages, lived in poverty and difficulty, yet proclaimed the Gospel with courage and conviction and we wonder if we could ever do it or how we could possibly have a mission that compares. And yet the fact remains that God has entrusted each of us with a mission. The truth is that the mission is most often lived out in simple ways, through fidelity to our daily responsibilities with family, through our daily prayer, through our treatment of the people around us.

Baptism did not mark the end of our Christian journey. The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, while marking the end of a liturgical season, is in fact just another beginning. May this feast once again focus our attention on our mission in Christ, to bring His light, love, and mercy into the world!

Peace,

Fr. Sam

From the Pastor’s Desk |January 6, 2019

frsamDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing this note before Christmas due to early bulletin submission deadlines. By the time you read it, I will be in Indianapolis, IN with our youth minister Paola Peña and a number of our parish’s college students for the Seek 2019 Conference, sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (www.focus.org). Seek is a five day conference that is typically offered to college students from universities around the country. FOCUS is present on over 100 college campuses, including Western Connecticut State University. Paola was a FOCUS missionary at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London prior to working here at St. Pius. This year, the Seek Conference expanded its reach to invite not only college students, but priests, religious and lay people from all walks of life to participate in a few days of inspiration and renewal.

The feast of the Epiphany, which we celebrate this weekend, is instructive for this conference. As the Magi come to Jesus, His light begins to shine not only to Israel, but to all nations. Christ enlightens the minds and hearts of all people. The years students spend in college are meant to be enlightening. Education is a gift that broadens our horizons and helps us understand our place in the world. At the same time, those college years can be challenging, especially to the faith of young people. Too often, universities—including Catholic universities—tear down the faith of young people. The college environment is not always friendly to those who wish to live their Catholic faith. FOCUS provides support to Catholic students across the country so that, as they further their education, they can simultaneously grow in their faith. Of course, the challenge of living the Catholic faith is not limited to college students! And so the Seek conference is an opportunity for Catholics of all backgrounds to be renewed and enlightened by Christ.

As the new year begins, how is the light of Christ shining for you? Where do you need His light in your life? I encourage you, in this new year of grace, to take advantage of opportunities to grow in your faith and expand your spiritual horizons. Participate in parish ministries, join the choir, use some of the online resources we have access to. In short, know that God is at work in your heart and in your life and that He wants to give you even more. Our relationship with God can always grow. As the Magi went home by another way, so may we be transformed by our encounter with the light of Christ and live this year 2019 in constant growth with our Lord!

Peace,

Fr. Sam

From the Pastor’s Desk | December 30, 2018

frsamDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As the calendar year draws to a close, we celebrate the Holy Family. In Nazareth, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph make their home and give us a model of family life and love. In this context, I would like to reflect for a moment on the many blessings we have received as a family of faith in this last year and offer a few words of thanks to those who have made it all possible.

We have been privileged as a family of faith to witness the first year of Fr. Tim’s priesthood. Now rapidly approaching his second anniversary, Fr. Tim has been a great asset to our parish, with his solid preaching, love for the liturgy, generosity with his time and his priestly heart. We have been blessed also with the freedom given to us by the Diocese of Bridgeport to reimagine Faith Formation. I am so grateful to all of our catechists who teach in our Sacramental Preparation Program, helping our children prepare to experience God’s grace through Confession, the Eucharist, and Confirmation. I am grateful, too, for the families and individuals who have participated in our Lifelong Faith Formation program and who have been so kind and patient as we learn together how best to offer opportunities for faith formation to all our parishioners. We are always blessed by an outstanding music program here at St. Pius X, and I thank our choir members, cantors and musicians for their generosity in time and talent. In a particular way, we have much to be grateful for in our organist and choir master, Mike Lantowski, who is back with us after major surgery! Our many ministries, led by dedicated volunteers, continue to provide opportunities for community and for service to so many. Thank you all for your commitment to our faith and this family!

This year was one of the most challenging in my life, as the We Stand With Christ capital campaign began. I can never adequately thank you for your generosity to this extraordinary endeavor. We not only raised more than our Diocesan goal ($1.8 million), but we raised more than our challenge goal! In total, we raised $2.7 million. Through this generous response, our parish is contributing to important charitable, pastoral, and educational work all over Fairfield County, as well as making it possible for us to take on restorative work in our church building itself. In the new year, I am excited to share design concepts with you and seek your feedback. Thank you for your kindness and generosity!

Finally, I must thank everyone who is part of the St. Pius X Parish staff. Without them, none of the good work done at St. Pius would be possible. Few people will ever know the long hours, the hard work, and the hidden sacrifices they make for the good of this community. We are blessed in this parish to be served by hard working individuals who love Jesus, love the Catholic faith, and love this family of faith. To Sandro Camargo, Kara Clegg, Terri Dawes, Kathy Donnelly, Valeria Figueroa, Shari Garcia, Lorna Green, Barb Kwiatkowski, Mike Lantowski, Kim Leon, Amy O’Donnell, and Paola Peña, thank you for all you do to make this parish what it is. I am blessed to work alongside you!

With gratitude to God for the blessings of 2018, and prayers for a happy and healthy 2019, I wish you all a happy new year!

Peace,

Fr. Sam

From the Pastor’s Desk | December 23, 2018

frsamDear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” As we enter these final days of Advent, our preparation for the coming of the Lord continues. It is a hope-filled preparation. Hope implies our belief that what we expect will indeed occur. We expect the birth of our Savior on Christmas Day, we are confident that the Lord comes to save His people.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see testimony that God desires to redeem Israel, His chosen people. The covenant God makes with Abraham is renewed many times, the prophets are sent to convert, encourage, and remind Israel of God’s plan for them. Divine Revelation is full of the word of the Lord being spoken and people looking forward in hope to the fulfillment of that word. When Mary hears the words of the angel Gabriel, she understands them in this long, historical, spiritual context. She receives them as the revelation of how God will bring salvation to His people. Her faith and hope enable her to accept and say a confident “yes” to God’s plan. She believes that what the Lord has spoken, both to the whole history of Israel and to her through the angel, will be fulfilled. Truly, as Elizabeth says, Mary is blessed!

We are invited to share in this confident faith and hope of the Blessed Virgin Mary. With her, we are invited to say yes to the will of God in our lives. God renews His covenant with us again and again. This Christmas, He calls us to place our confidence in His loving plan once again. Let us use these final days and hours of Advent to prepare with joy, to open our hearts more fully, and to ready ourselves to go forth to meet Christ the newborn King!

Peace,

Fr. Sam